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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Author Day on Beat Street: the Writer's Process Blog Tour

The great thing about e-mail (and life?) is you never know what’s around the corner. This is especially great when it’s good stuff, so I was thrilled to hear from Susan Schwaidelson Siegfried last week. 

Susan is the author of plays, at least one novel and a fascinating blog called The Wifely Person Speaks, which is read by enough columnists that we could almost say Susan is “the columnists’ columnist.” At least, I could. And I’d be right.

Susan asked me to be part of a writer’s blog tour and answer the questions posted below. To me, it feels like a little bit of a vacation from my usual spoutings—not that they aren’t fun.

1    What am I working on? Too many things, as usual. Right now I’m writing a play that I can’t talk about just yet, so why am I talking about it to you? Shhhh! The contract hasn’t been signed. (If it is, I’ll come back here and tell you.)

After a reading of my newest play If You Don’t Weaken at Freshwater Theatre, I will probably also be working on revisions. I’m taking this opportunity to announce that the play will be part of Freshwater Theatre’s 2014-15 season, and I’m extremely honored and excited to be part of it.

I also write columns for TC Jewfolk, which explores Jewish life through the eyes of a wide variety of young (and some not-quite-so young) Twin Citians.

And I write this blog, which shares the POV of Ruby Tabeata and her friends from my middle-grade novel, The Beat on Ruby’s Street

      Because I write a lot about Jewishly-related subjects, I try to focus on how Jewish people today connect (or don’t) with rituals and holidays vs. historical stuff.

     Why do I write what I do? I write about what interests me. I can’t write otherwise. Plays and novels take too long and are much too hard if you’re not tickled and pained and roughed up and scared and ecstatic about them.

     How does my writing process work? Some years back I read an article about playwright Marsha Norman who said when she gets an idea, the first thing she does is try to forget it. If the idea continues to haunt her over a period of weeks and months, she knows it’s time to write it. I agree completely with that.

      When I do start writing, I have to be obsessed enough to jump in and get whatever is inside me out on the page. Once the first draft is finished is when the real work of writing begins. To me, that’s when it gets interesting.

How does my work differ from others of its genre? I guess that would depend on which work and which genre. The Beat on Ruby's Street is one of the few historical novels to explore life in 1950s Greenwich Village as lived by a young girl growing up in a Beat family. (As far as I know, anyway).

Well, that WAS fun and now it’s my turn to pass the baton. On May 12, three writers I know you’ll love will be writing their take on the questions I just answered:


JANET STILSON has dedicated her life to editing and writing in a variety of different genres, including magazine articles, film scripts, a book, essays, short stories and speeches. Janet honed her skills as a journalist at Variety newspaper and rose through the editorial ranks at a number of publications focused on the interests of media and entertainment executives. Two of her film scripts have been optioned, and three have been short listed in major international screenwriting competitions. Reading Janet’s prose is like leaning over a terrace overlooking a tropical ocean, roiling at the bottom, calm on the surface. You can find it here:

KIM HINES is known to the Twin Cities as an all-around theater artist, but as a playwright, Kim's work has been produced locally as well as at many, many other theaters across the nation including the prestigious Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Along with the many grants and commissions Kim has received for her work, she was a recipient of the Bush Fellowship for playwriting. As a writer, I think Kim likes to build fires, so she can burn away everything but the truth.  See for yourself at

When asked what she does for a living, MARGIE ANN STANKO responded, “I make people happy.” Certified in Creative Arts Therapy and ordained at One Spirit Interfaith Seminary, Reverend Margie Ann provides support to people in crisis, mentors ministerial students and people in 12-Step Recovery, does outreach to the homeless and chronically/terminally ill, and creates special events, rituals and ceremonies. The TBI Writer’s Workshop she developed received the Brain Injury Association of New York Founder’s Award, and her personal essays have won multiple contests. Her published/recorded poetry has also been performed nationally.  Years ago, Margie Ann taught yours truly to dance onstage, and everything she does has music and poetry in it. Her blog, Funds for Reverence at examines the challenges of being human.